Economics and the Environment
Articles and short reports
Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind, Sept. 13, 2014. German public policies and public dollars have created a massive transition to renewable energy.
Shattering Myths to Help the Climate by Robert Frank, New York Times, August 2, 2014
In Interests, Ideology, and Climate by a Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman writes that the economic consequences of limiting carbon emissions are relatively minor. Political obtacles are the real barriers to change. (June 8, 2014)
And God saw everything God had made, and indeed, it was very good. -- Genesis 1:31a
Economic policies and institutions impact our climate, climate change, and all the living things on God's planet. Changes in public policies can make our economy more equitable while also slowing climate change and environmental degradation.
Reforming Taxation to Promote Equity and Growth (and help the climate) is a report by Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. (May 28, 2014) The goal of tax reform can and must be to advance a variety of societal goals: higher employment, faster growth, a fairer (less skewed to the top) distribution of income, less environmental degradation, more tax revenue, and a more efficient system with fewer loopholes and ways to avoid paying what is owed.
Also see his two-part interview (Fair Taxes for All and How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class) with Bill Moyers on Moyers and Company.
In The New Abolitionism, Christopher Hayes notes that fossil fuel companies are pulling more carbon out of the ground than ever before and, if we limit the planet’s temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (anything above that threatens human survival), then “it’s becoming increasingly clear that those companies will have to leave 80 percent of their reserves in the ground if we are to avert a global cataclysm.” This would mean our incredibly powerful fossil fuel companies will need to just walk away from an estimated $10-20 trillion. Hayes notes that the only historical event that compares with today’s need to abandon a huge amount of wealth is the abolition of slavery. While it is hard to think of people as property, hard to think that ownership of people was upheld by law, nonetheless, we realize that slave owners fought emancipation because it meant the loss of a huge amount of wealth – an estimated $10 trillion in today’s dollars. It took the Civil War to bring it about. Hayes writes, “In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.” Read the whole article from The Nation magazine, April 22, 2014.
Writing in Century Century, noted environmentalist Bill McKibben calls for divestment from the oil industry.
Capitalism v. the Climate by Naomi Klein in The Nation, November 2011. An excellent assessment of the problem and what must be done.
UCC Environmental Ministries
General Synod Resolutions about Climate Change
Resolution Urging Divestment – Along With Other Strategies – From Fossil Fuel Companies to Address Climate Change , GS XXIX, 2013.
A Resolution on Climate Change , GS XXVI, 2007.